Sensation in Völs: Roman balance with Bacchus

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June 28, 2012 – The Austrian museums are proposing 100 objects in a large-scale publicity campaign. Now and then the selection comprises even an object that might fascinate those interested in economical and monetary history like this reconstruction of a Roman balance. Now we are only waiting for the first coin or medal to become object of the day.

A Roman balance with a scale weight in shape of a bust of the god Bacchus. Photo: Museum Thurnfels, Völs, Tyrol.

A sensational finding: The Roman god who has rest nearly 2,000 years under the old vicarage in Völs now ranks among the most important and beautiful findings of this kind in whole Tyrol.
In the course of maintenance works in the old vicarage, today serving as funeral parlour and as space for cultural events, archaeologists of the department of prehistory in Innsbruck made a surprising discovery in spring 1999. Just under the modern floor level the remains of a late Roman building of around the 3rd century were found. From the preserved soil layers the excavators retrieved a couple of findings which offer us a fascinating view on the everyday life of the ancient residents.

Detail of the scale weight. Photo: Museum Thurnfels, Völs, Tyrol.

The scale weight of a Roman balance was probably the most spectacular of the findings. It shows the god Bacchus as a young man. He was believed to be the god of joy and conviviality, fertility and wine. The object from Völs belongs to the class of bust weights and dates from the first half of the second century CE; it is made of cast bronze and filled with lead. The eyelet at the head hints at its function as a scale weight. When it was discovered it weighted approximately 1,038 g. Currently the Bacchus from Völs is the only piece of this kind in northern Tyrol.

You can find the campaign website here.